The Devil Queen

How my wife and I sold our souls to the Queen Anne Victorian we tried to save.

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Location: Crow Mountain, Arkansas, United States

Synopsis: This is a cautionary tale. A seriously disturbed couple find the charming, old ruin of a Queen Anne Victorian in Russellville, Arkansas, and buy it for $1.00. They tore the roof off, cut it in half, and had it moved to some land they owned sixteen miles away because they didn't know any better. Since then, they have hired and fired contractors, had all of their tools stolen, re-wired, re-plumbed, insulated, and essentially rebuilt the entire house. Their only problem is that after four years it still isn't finished. Now they are tired, broke, and wonder what in the hell it is they've done to themselves. And, it's haunted.
(Last updated on April 3, 2008)

Press: Russellville Courier Article - December 2003, HGTV website article, AP story - October 2006, and Victorian Homes Magazine - February 2008 (link coming soon).
Art: From time to time, I receive requests for my art. If you would like to look at more of my art, go to The Failed Artist. If you would like to buy my art, email me. I am more than happy to answer any questions you might have. Thanks!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Weekend Survivor

Well, we survived the weekend.

I spent about 12 hours working on the mural. It's moving along, but, lamentably, it's still not finished. I think that I have 12-16 more hours of work to bring it to completion.

We didn't get to lay the kitchen floor, but there was a good bit of progress made. The new electrical pole (of code compliant height) is in the ground and set in concrete. We still have to mount the boxes and reconnect the wires, but the worst of it is over (I hope). For the first time in nearly two years, the kitchen now has all of its ceiling boards. That was a real pain in the ass.

For any of you out there that may have to reinstall tongue and groove ceiling boards, I would like to recommend wood screws or finishing screws over nails. The first few board I put in I used nails. I thought that they would have a smaller, less visible profile than screws. With a little bit of putty or caulk, the nail head would vanish. Unfortunately, even 3 inch finish nails didn't always have sufficient holding power. I've had to reinforce several boards with screws. If you use a counter sink bit or finish screws, the heads are nearly invisible even without the putty. Having 12 foot ceilings helps too.

We've washed down all of the walls and the ceiling to remove any loose bits of paint, dust, et cetera, so we'll have smooth paint job in the kitchen.

The master bedroom has been one of our dumping areas for building materials. Sunday, we hauled everything out. The master bedroom is one of our "easy" rooms. In theory all it needs is to have the wallpaper pulled, the dry wall patched and prepped, and then paint. It also needs to have the floor sanded and refinished. Or, that was what we thought.

After I finished hauling everything out, my wife and I we looking the room over. The closet door, which was in perfect working order when we moved the house, will no longer close. The top left corner of the door catches on the jamb. Perplexed, I backed up and looked the door over. It was then I noticed that the left side of the door jamb is lower than the right. The middle of that wall has sunk approximately 1 inch since we moved the house.

Fortunately, the room is still solid (if you jump up and down, the floor doesn't give). None of the beams have cracked or warped. What has happened is the pier under the middle of the wall has settled with a lean to one side.

All new construction settles. However, in our case, normal settling has been exacerbated by what has been unanticipated drainage problems. Mainly, when we have a hard rain, the topography of the lot channels runoff towards the front of the Queen. When it is really bad, it runs in torrents under the house. I've only seen it do this once in two years, but that is once too many.

Another problem that we didn't anticipate was the front porch. Once it was installed, all the rainwater from the whole front of the house (the front face of the main hip of the roof and the side of two gables) are channeled onto the porch roof. The water then runs off the porch roof and begins to pool.

To fully fix this problem, we'll have to have some serious bulldozer and backhoe work done. I'm thinking French drains, raised flowerbeds, and one or two retaining walls. We also need to have the crawl space enclosed. We were waiting until we'd finished all the plumbing and installing the central heat and air. We also need about $7,000.00 that we don't have.

We're also going to need a gutter on the front porch. The Queen never had gutters. A decorative piece of crown molding ran all the way around her just under the shingles. We're planning to go back to this, but the porch will have to be the exception. Since its on the front of the Queen, it'll have to look good. It'll be one of the first things that everyone will see. We're thinking copper. Anyone have any recommendations?

For the time being, we're doing some first aid.

First we are going to have to jack the wall up. Then we'll have to right the pier. I'll probably add a second pier to help hold the weight.

If we can get the money together for the dozer work, we'll start on the French drains and retaining walls. We may (God, I hate writing this) have to put a nasty little piece of vinyl gutter on the porch until we can get some copper ones. I guess its better than jacking floors.

I swear, finish one project and you just find three or four more begging for your attention.


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